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NY Judge’s Suspected Suicide Shines Light on Silent Struggle (The National Law Journal)

The National Law Journal, April 13, 2017

NY Judge’s Suspected Suicide Shines Light on Silent Struggle

“According to an American Bar Association study released last year, a significant percentage of lawyers suffer from mental health issues and addiction. But while bar associations across the country have devoted money and resources to help attorneys battle mental health and addiction issues, not nearly as many resources have been focused on judges….Eileen Travis, director of the New York City Bar Association’s Lawyer Assistance Program, also said that judges are wary of reporting that they are having mental health problems. ‘They’re afraid that if word gets out, that’s just going to be it. That’s going to be the end of their career,’ Travis said. All states have laws protecting the confidentiality of lawyers and judges who seek assistance, Travis said. New York’s law, Judiciary Law §499, also grants immunity from civil liability to those who work for lawyer assistance programs. For judges—who make up a small percentage of those who seek help from her office—there may be pressure to keep ‘cool, calm and collected,’ Travis said, and a view that, as the ultimate problem-solvers in many cases, they need to maintain a veneer of being problem-free themselves. ‘Even though, behind the scenes, they may be struggling with things that we all struggle with,’ she said.”

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